Thanks to COVID-19, the future of commerce is now. In 2020, as stores across the nation shuttered their doors and consumers sheltered in place, e-commerce surged. $200.72 billion was spent online with U.S. retailers in Q2, up 44.4% year-on-year. In June, e-commerce sales were up 76% year-on-year. And in July, Amazon, North America’s largest online retailer, saw a 28.1% spike in traffic versus just before the pandemic began.
Meanwhile, 21 North American retailers such as J.C. Penney and Neiman Marcus filed for bankruptcy as state-mandated lockdowns, store closures, and fear of contracting COVID-19 reduced foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores.
As McKinsey & Company put it, “We have covered a ‘decade in days’ when it comes to the adoption of digital.”
While we won’t have to deal with this year’s coronavirus forever, many of the consumer behaviors it spurred are here to stay. For retailers accelerating their digital transformations in light of the pandemic’s impact, product information management (PIM) is a top priority. Based on the shifts in consumer preferences and behaviors we’ve seen this year, here are the top 4 PIM trends we believe will define the next decade:
Cloud solutions have gained popularity over the last ten years because they offer businesses much more agility and flexibility than traditional, on-premise solutions. Along with taking considerably less time to deploy and adopt, cloud technologies allow you to scale up and down with demand, so you only pay for what you use.
As budgets and resources have diminished, and web traffic and consumption patterns have grown increasingly erratic, cloud solutions have become even more attractive. For companies forced to rapidly and radically adapt their business models to accommodate the “next normal”, cloud solutions make for a safer investment than on-premise technology. Low initial costs, a pay-as-you-go model, faster deployment times, and the ability to effortlessly scale up and down with demand are critical features in a volatile market.
Today, more people than ever purchase goods online, including big-ticket items like furniture and even cars. But it’s nearly impossible to recreate the in-store experience digitally. And many brands and retailers are finding it difficult to meet the growing needs and demands of pandemic-era customers online.
Humans are visual by nature. We process images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90% of the information transmitted to our brains is visual.
To improve buyer engagement and create a more seamless e-commerce experience, leading brands and retailers are layering visuals on top of the rich product data stored in their PIM solutions to create 3D product configurations. Doing so allows customers to zoom in and out of products and even rotate them 360 degrees.
Customers currently return 20-40% of online purchases. But having strong, visual experiences on your e-commerce site powered by rich product data gives your customers a clearer understanding of what they’re buying so they can make faster, more confident purchase decisions.
During the pandemic, downtown Chicago and other major cities have become ghost towns. As employees continue to work remotely, once busy lunch spots have reduced their hours, temporarily closed or implemented delivery and pick-up only services.
Germ-weary essential workers looking to grab a bite to eat during a long shift have found comfort in touchless services like Amazon Go that allow them to purchase healthy food items without having to interact face-to-face with a cashier or exchange currency.
How does Amazon Go work? The technology detects when products are removed from or returned to shelves and tracks them in your digital cart. As you leave the store, Amazon automatically charges your account and emails you a receipt.
Touchless retail experiences rely on a combination of cameras, sensors, artificial intelligence, and complex product and customer data. To ensure a seamless shopping experience, all of these disparate systems must be kept connected and secure. The data piece is particularly critical as information across weight sensors, payment systems, GPS, and surveillance must be synchronized with minimal latency. A robust, integrated PIM solution can facilitate this.
While the coronavirus has made touchless concepts like Amazon Go a necessity, they’re expected to stick around even after the threat of COVID-19 has dissipated.
As COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to digital, consumers have become much more comfortable with a variety of different channels including mobile chat, texting, and more. Mobile e-commerce increased considerably this year to $2.91 trillion, up from $2.32 trillion in 2019. In 2021, that figure is estimated to reach $3.56 trillion with mobile phones making up nearly 73% of total e-commerce sales.
Today’s shoppers expect to receive consistent customer experiences across every channel. Over the next decade, companies will rely more heavily on PIM solutions to strengthen omnichannel engagement, ensuring customers see accurate and up-to-date pricing and product information everywhere they engage with the brand. When properly integrated, PIM technology allows you to add and delete products and update product characteristics including price and availability in one place and automatically duplicate those changes across every channel in real-time.